Having predominantly clay soil in the garden can be very frustrating! Some plants just will not thrive in it. Trying to find suitable plants that tolerate clay conditions is hard (and restrictive), and when it becomes hot, the plants in the ground need more watering to keep them going.
Initially, we used gypsum to break up the clay, adding horse manure/cow manure to provide some of the humus necessary to increase the organic content of the soil. chicken manure is also added as mainly food to the plants. Unfortunately some of the ‘soil’ that you can buy in is also heavily clay based, so when we were offered FREE friable red soil from a friend who was excavating on their property, we jumped at the chance and had 4 cubic metres of red soil delivered.
What had we done???!!! FOUR cubic metres was an enormous amount of dirt to move around with a wheelbarrow, but within the past two weeks that pile has slowly dwindled down to an eighth of what it was! There is red soil everywhere… and of course, everything is now stained red; the wheelbarrows, garden tools, shoes, clothes and concrete paths!!
I began working on the newer narrow front garden beds that I had created at the start of the season. The plants I had planted in these beds were not doing well, and I discovered that despite the fact that I watered every day, the soil was as dry as a bone, more than likely the result of using a particular type of barks mulch we had got at a bargain price! I added red soil to these beds, along with aged cow manure and topped them with sugarcane mulch, and the plants seem to be growing much better now. I prefer using sugar cane mulch as it breaks down easily over a season and provides the soil with much needed humus. The earthworms love it!
Because we got so much free soil, I decided to create a larger bed in the top corner of the front garden, by putting in a couple of sleepers to extend the bed. The original edge to the bed consisted of vertically placed short halved pine stumps, strung together with wire, and over time both the wood and metal had disintegrated, and the edge of the bed had collapsed. The new edging is of hardwood and should last for many years to come, before needing to be replaced.
In addition to increasing the area of the garden bed, I also increased the height of the original section of the bed by using the rocks that were in the free soil to create terraces. I planted out these new areas with many of the plants I had propagated during the previous season!
Because of the large area I created, I needed a lot of soil to fill the new raised bed. I used some of the smaller rocks that were in the free red soil as drainage in the bottom of the bed, then added some gypsum and horse manure on top of the rocks. I then filled up the remaining space with a mix of red soil, aged cow and chicken manure and other soil from the garden.
Once the new bed was completed, I planted it out with some of the plants I had propagated during the year. We also decided that it would be an ideal spot to put the garden bench that we had brought down from Rockhampton. The bench had belonged to Steve’s Mom, and as the family haad decided to plant a rose in her memory, we decided to plant roses around the bench, so that when we sat there we would be enveloped in a lovely perfume and it would be the ideal place to reflect on life and remember those family members who have passed on from this world.
This corner of the garden is still a work in progress and will be gradually planted out over the next year or so to create a lovely peaceful corner for reflection and reminiscing. As the garden begins to develop and grow, further photos will be added to this post to show the progress.